TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — When it comes to health and infections, the United States has a big problem besides ending the COVID-19 pandemic. That problem is STDs, particularly gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia.

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked all 50 states by how common different venereal, or sexually transmitted diseases are, among state populations. Florida ranked No. 10 for syphilis.

Rankings for other common STDs like gonorrhea or chlamydia were much lower in the Sunshine State, No. 27 for both diseases. While the data in the main CDC report is based on infections in 2020, preliminary data from 2021 shows the problem is not going away, instead, the health agency said syphilis was spreading.

In its report surveillance report, the CDC said that chlamydia infections had gone down 1.2%, to 1.6 million cases across the U.S. since 2016. However, gonorrhea cases rose 45% over four years through 2020, while syphilis had risen 52%. Congenital syphilis, an infection from pregnant mother to infant before birth, was higher too, with a 235% increase.

The CDC said the report “serves as a reminder that STDs remain a significant public health concern, even in the face of a pandemic.”

Across the U.S., there were 1,579,885 cases of chlamydia in 2020. Here were the top states, ranked by cases per 100,000 residents.

RankStateCase CountRate Per 100K
1Mississippi 23,919803.7
2Louisiana 32,997709.8
3Alaska 5,090695.8
4South Carolina 34,118662.7
5North Carolina 64,640616.3
6Georgia 62,582589.4
7New Mexico 12,084576.3
8Tennessee 37,907555.1
9Alabama 27,075552.2
10Illinois 68,716542.3
(Source: CDC)

For gonorrhea, Florida held the same rank, but the top 10 was a bit different. In the U.S., there were only 677,769 cases in 2020. The CDC said the data in 2020 was a big concern due to the history of the disease’s spread over time.

“Rates of reported gonorrhea have increased 111% since the historic low in 2009,” The CDC reported. “During 2019–2020, the overall rate of reported gonorrhea increased 5.7%.” They said the amount of reported cases had increased mainly among men from 2009 to 2013. The number of cases increased in 36 states, according to the CDC.

RankStateCase CountRate per 100K
3South Carolina16,705324.4
7South Dakota2,424274
10North Carolina28,258269.4
(Source: CDC)

However, when it came to syphilis cases in the U.S., Florida did break into the top 10 in 2020. There were only 41,655 cases in the country.

RankStateCase CountRate per 100K
5New Mexico46722.3
(Source: CDC)

The number of cases of syphilis infections among babies, caused by congenital syphilis, there were just 2,148 cases nationally. The largest portion of cases were in Texas.

RankStateCase CountRate per 100K
1New Mexico42182.9
(Source: CDC)

The increase of syphilis cases, despite a proven and effective method of both treatment and prevention, has caused the CDC concern. In 1999, the CDC reported it would be possible to “eliminate syphilis” within the whole of the country’s borders. The report noted the majority of infections at the time were in the South.

The trends reported more than 20 years ago still hold true, as shown by the number of Southern states in the top 10 for syphilis and congenital syphilis.

Following the CDC’s release of the data on April 12, some reactions to it were mixed, especially from advocates who were reviewing President Joe Biden’s budget plan.

The National Coalition of STD Directors, a national public health membership organization representing health department STD directors and their staff, urged the U.S. government to increase the CDC’s budget to assist in fighting the spread of the diseases in the report, among others.

“This affirms once again that America isn’t taking the STD crisis seriously,” David C. Harvey, executive director of NCSD, said. “We can only fight this out-of-control epidemic with new funding and the kind of urgency that reflects the enormity of this crisis.”

NCSD has tracked how COVID-19 affected the ability to track disease spread during in the U.S. during the pandemic. It’s a problem the CDC also acknowledged when publishing the STD surveillance data.

“In 2020, COVID-19 significantly affected STD surveillance and prevention efforts,” the CDC said. “This report reflects the realities of a strained public health infrastructure, while simultaneously providing the most current data on reported cases of STDs in the United States.”

NCSD said the challenges of the pandemic led to interruptions in testing and access to healthcare in communities fighting off STDs. They said the diseases impacted the young “deeply” and added to a “dramatic climb in congenital syphilis.” When the president released the budget plan for the coming fiscal year, the organization said keeping the CDC’s STD budget flat, or unchanged, would not help to address the upward trend of infections in the U.S.